ON Wedensday, Ateneo chief assistant Sandy Arespacochaga will be a busy guy for sure.
He will either be scouting the match between University of the Philippines and Adamson in the venue, or preparing his team in the campus for the UAAP Finals on Saturday.
A part of him wishes that he can just enjoy it as a fan.
Knowing the quality that the two teams have, Arespacochage knows that they’ll have it hard either way – and he expects both teams to deliver when the Fighting Maroons and Falcons clash for the final championship berth of Season 81 on Wednesday.
“Unang-una torn ka between watching it as a fan and watching it as an opposing coach e, part of us, we just want to watch it and enjoy the game,” said Arespacphaga in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) forum in Tapa King on Tuesday.
“Second also is, conflict sa practice, we practice 6 p.m. so yung dulo hindi namin mapapanood, depende there would be some of us who would be watching it live, some of us will stay behind for practice. Last time ako yung naiwan sa practice e, ewan ko kung makakapanood ako this time, we’ll see,” he added.
Both teams have given Ateneo a run for its money one way or another this season, with Adamson pulling off the biggest surprise of the season early, after beating the Blue Eagles in the first game of their schedules.
While experience favors Adamson, Arespacochaga sees the two teams pretty evenly matched especially when it comes to personnel.
“Both are tough. You have Bright Akhuetie and Papi Sarr who are both good offensively and defensively, you have talented offensive players from both teams, (Sean) Manganti, (Jerrick) Ahanmisi (Jerie) Pingoy and (Jerom) Lastimosa, sa UP naman, Juan Gomez de Liano, (Paul) Desiderio, you have (Jun) Manzo and Javi Gomez de Liano,” he added.
Arespacochaga knows that both coaches will also come prepared, having worked with both of them in the past – acting as Bo Perasol’s assistant just a few years ago for Ateneo, while also working with Franz Pumaren in the youth team from way back.
“Both teams have very good coaches, medyo magiiba lang on how they like to play. You can say maybe that Adamson is the more defensive-oriented team while UP is a more offensive-oriented team, pero medyo minsonception yun na yun lang ang titignan mo sa kanila e,” Arespacochaga added.
“They wouldn’t have made it this far if Adamson isn’t a good-executing offensive team, or UP isn’t a good defensive team, hindi sila aabot all the way here. So you cant take away anything, na iisipin namin na ganito lang sila. There are lot of factors involved.”
For the longtime Ateneo assistant, it’s all about which team adjusts better when the game is on the line, and he’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on it – both as a coach and as a fan.
“It would be very interesting tomorrow how both teams will make their adjustments. Yun ang maganda tignan, adjustments, maybe personnel being matched-up, maybe new plays, maybe. Sa Adamson how will they get Ahanmisi more looks and get him more involved on offense?” Arespacochaga shared.
“Sa UP naman si Bright coming off a low-scoring game, how will they invoilve Bright more without necessarily sacrificing shots from Paul Desiderio or Juan Gomez de Liano? Magandang dynamics yan bukas e, I think it’s gonna be a very interesting game.”